175 So Far Killed In Gaza

image.adapt.480.lowAt least five people have been killed and 70 injured by an Israeli strike on a hospital in Gaza, Palestinians say. This brings to 175 people so far killed since last Thursday.

Doctors say several Israeli tank shells hit the hospital’s reception, intensive care unit and operating theatres.

Overnight, more than 30 members of two Palestinian families died in Israeli strikes, Gazan health officials said.

Meanwhile, Hamas launched fresh rocket attacks. Israel said 10 militants had been killed after using tunnels to get into Israel near the town of Sderot.

The Palestinian death toll from the two-week conflict has now passed 500, the majority of them civilians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Israel says it has killed more than 170 militants since Thursday night, when it launched the ground offensive phase of its two-week old operation to end rocket fire from Gaza.

Twenty Israelis – 18 of them soldiers – have died, Israel says.

Palestinian television showed footage of wounded people being treated after the strike at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. Most of the wounded were doctors, according to Palestinian officials.

Appeals have been made to the Red Cross to help evacuate patients from the building, the BBC’s Yolande Knell reports from Gaza.

Israel had told residents of neighbouring areas to head to Deir al-Balah for their own safety as its ground offensive continues to target neighbourhoods to the east of Gaza City for a second day, our correspondent adds. In Egypt, US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to hold talks to try to arrange a ceasefire.

The UN Security Council has issued a call for an “immediate cessation of hostilities”, but did not endorse a strongly worded draft resolution backed by Arab states.

President Barack Obama said the US had “serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives”, and said the focus of the international community should be “to bring about a ceasefire… that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians”. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has criticised an Israeli operation in the densely populated area of Shejaiya on Sunday as “an atrocious action”.

At least 67 people were reported killed in the assault on Shejaiya, which Israel said was a “terror stronghold”.

Sunday was the deadliest day of the conflict so far; more than 100 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers lost their lives. — BBC

Palestinian emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said nine members of one family were killed in Israeli attacks on Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

In Khan Younis, in the south of Gaza, at least 23 members of one family died when a building was hit by an Israeli air strike, officials said.

“Doesn’t this indicate that Israel is ruthless? Are we the liars?” family member Sabri Abu Jamea told the Associated Press news agency.

“The evidence is here in the morgue refrigerators.”

Further north, Israel continued its ground operation in the eastern fringes of Gaza City.

After moving into the Shejaiya neighbourhood on Sunday in search of rocket sites and tunnels, nearby areas were pounded with artillery on Monday morning.

The BBC’s Paul Adams, at the scene, reports that more than 83,000 people across Gaza have taken refuge in schools run by the UN.

Sunday’s operation in Shejaiya prompted chaotic scenes, with thousands of residents fleeing and images of children being pulled from the wreckage of buildings.

Israel sent ground troops into Gaza after days of heavy air and naval barrages failed to stop rocket fire.

Israel says the ground operation is necessary to target Hamas’ network of tunnels, which have been used by militants to get into Israel and carry out attacks.

But the UN, Palestinians and Arab states have expressed alarm at the number of civilian casualties. — BBC

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